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Students celebrate lecturer’s birthday

Turning 50 is no picnic, but what is better to help you through it than a classroom full of cheering students and a video of previous students from all over the world saying happy birthday?

Rachel Sharp, Journalism lecturer at Brunel University, was out having a coffee with her co-worker Niki Ashby before her lecture this morning. Little did Rachel know that Niki had decorated the classroom and organised the whole celebration before they went out for coffee. Niki did her best to keep Rachel busy as long as she could, so the students could get ready for the birthday surprise in the classroom. However holding back a punctual lecturer is not the easiest task, as it got closer to 10 o’clock, Rachel wanted to head to the classroom, but luckily Niki managed to convince her that it was fine to be a few minutes late just this one time.

Niki started planning the celebration already in the beginning of January. She emailed members of staff and said they should do something for Rachel’s 50th birthday. The actual date is 10th of February, but since that is on a Sunday they decided to do it in the newsroom in Friday’s lecture. They staff got together a collection of presents whilst Niki went out to buy decorations and make a cake. Niki went to work at 7:15 so she would have time to decorate the classroom before Rachel arrived. “Because I love her. She deserves it.”

By the time Rachel got to the classroom the room was covered with decorations on the walls, hanging from the ceiling, taped to the computers, as well as all the students were singing happy birthday. When they finally got to the classroom Rachel was shocked: “I was really excited. I love birthdays, I get excited about everything. When I opened the door, I was just really shocked, surprised and just happy, because I love things like that, and it just made me smile.”

A highlight of the celebration was the video from the former students from all over the UK and also from Lebanon, the United States and Colombia. Getting the students to send the videos was not an issue. Niki said: “As soon as I said I was actually doing it they jumped at the chance which was really nice. Everyone was just saying 'that is an amazing idea, of course I will do it for Rachel'. It was surprisingly easy to do.” Rachel said: “That just completely overwhelmed me. It was so lovely to have students say nice things, that they still remember me.”

Turning 50 is not as scary as Rachel thought it would be. She said: “It actually feels fine. I had a conversation with some people a while ago and I was saying that I think it must be something to do with nature or evolution, because when you become 50 you’re not that worried of it anymore. As you get older you get more confidence. When I was 20 being 50 felt really scary, and it felt really old, but once you get there all your friends are the same age and you just feel like you’ve grown. You’re older and you’re more confident in yourself. I’m not scared of being 50 at all. I am a bit shocked that I am 50 because I don’t feel like I am, so I am a bit shocked, but I am not worried about it. “

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